words Alexa Wang
Paying homage to the hairdresser who shaped the 60s, the Vidal Sassoon movie documents the life of the man who changed the world with a pair of scissors. Most famous for his geometric shaped haircuts, this film portrays Sassoon as a rags-to-riches story. It defines the hairdresser as one of the founders of the 1960s British fashion phenomenon.
The film was originally the counterpart of the Vidal Sassoon autobiography and Vidal Sassoon book. The production of which is featured heavily, as both act to mark the achievements of Sassoon. Producers felt this was needed after his 2009 CBE award. It is understandable that the production team would want to pay homage to Sassoon. Many of them, including the Director, Writer, and both Producers, have roots (excuse the pun) in hairdressing themselves.
Yet as charming as Sassoon comes across in the film, it all seems a bit more like an episode of ‘This Is Your Life’ than a look into the life and times of this celebrity hairdresser. Most of the film consists of old TV footage of Sassoon, mixed in with clips of him responding to it, so that is seems rather self-indulgent, and not really revealing of the man behind the scissors.
However, if the film’s purpose was to honor a hairdressers’ work and to record his life’s achievements then it’s a success. For anyone interested in the 1960s culture and fashion it is definitely one that will make the cut (sorry, again), and it is sure to peak the interesting for the generations who weren’t lucky enough to live through the sixties themselves to see how these seminal changes in fashion and style came about.
It was certainly fascinating to see how one boy from an East London orphanage came to be inspired by the growing architecture around him and would then apply that to his own craft. The slow nine-year development of cutting sharper and straighter, from the angular bob, to the five-point cut; all now timeless designs, were ones that Sassoon took years to personally perfect. The film also shows how he came to be as renowned and celebrated as the fashion designers of the time, particularly Mary Quant. In an interview between the two icons, Quant says to him; “you put the top on my designs”.
Vidal Sassoon The Movie certainly highlights the celebrity aspect of Sasoon’s life, featuring how he invented the famous Mia Farrow haircut for ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, to his life as a 1970s L.A. TV show host. Yet amongst the countless footage of the hairdresser cutting women’s hair against their will and cheesy adverts shouting out ‘If you don’t look good, we don’t look good’, we do see Sassoon as a kind, honest man, trying to make a difference in the world with his art and vision. Nonetheless, I’m not sure that this is one I would ‘watch, rinse, repeat’.